Women Are Not Chicks

August 12, 2010

In 1972, as the women’s rights movement was building steam to take on the Establishment, this iconic poster graced the walls of many a bedroom, office, kitchen, and dorm. It was designed by The Women’s Graphic Collective based here in Chicago, and thousands of posters were sold all around the world. This bold statement of what women are not was instrumental in changing our group consciousness and the day-to-day idiom of the culture. So, here we are, it’s 2010,  in what some have dubbed post-Modern era, and libraries, bookstores, publishers, and reviewers are reveling in the success of a sub-genre of fiction called (drum roll…) “chick lit!” What is going on?  Do you bristle every time you hear it? Should feminists take offense? Should we worry about a regression to earlier attitudes? Is there a term that says it better? Let’s face it–“young women’s, urban, up-beat,  romantic, hip fiction” is quite a mouthful.

Last week the British paper “The Guardian” ran two timely pieces on this hot issue. Two successful authors took opposing sides on the moniker assigned to their novels. D. J. Connell’s piece appeared on Aug. 4th; Michele Gorman’s ran the next day. The debate continued on WBEZ’s  “Q, the Summer” radio talk show from the CBC where host Jian Ghomeshi interviewed both authors on Wednesday, Aug. 11th.

Personally I have always been uncomfortable with the term “chick lit” as well as it’s near relation “chick flick,” though I have used them. I’d like something better that doesn’t rely on what many consider a derogatory term. Short of that, maybe we need an equally outrageous term for books that appeal to guys. Manly Reads, anybody? How about Macho Tales?

Barbara L.

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